Generally, when a prominent athlete signs a 1-day contract before retiring, they do it for one of two reasons: to retire with the team with which they were most dominant, or to retire as a member of their hometown team. For example, chances are, LeBron James will retire a Cleveland Cavalier even if he plays with another team before his career is over, and there’s no chance Dirk Nowitzki leaves as a member of any team not named the Dallas Mavericks.
So it’s understandable why Amar’e Stoudemire‘s decision to retire as a New York Knick earlier this week was befuddling, to say the least. Not only is New York not the 6-time All-Star’s hometown–he was born and raised in Florida–but of the 5 years Amar’e spent in New York, only one of them were dominant. It was the 8 seasons he spent as a member of the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns that had many believing that Amar’e could shape up to be one of the best power forwards in the history of the game. It was with the Suns, who drafted Amar’e straight out of high school, that Stoudemire changed the way the league even looks at the power forward position.
So, why retire a Knick? After all, New York was where Amar’e, for the first time in his career, saw his star-power plummet due to injury. To the point where the team bought out his contract, waived him, and let him walk to the Dallas Mavericks for nothing in return. According to Amar’e, he actually tried to retire a Sun. But Phoenix had other ideas. Here’s what Amar’e told azcentral sports.
The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix, but I wasn’t getting any positive response. That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places—Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted. I wasn’t just going to keep knocking on someone’s door that wasn’t going to answer. I love my fans in Phoenix. Most of my high times and highlights were in Phoenix. I put forth the effort to finish my career in Phoenix but it wasn’t well-received.